Young patient becomes one of world top canoeists

Pictured from left: Alfie's dad Richard, mum Suzie and Alfie

17-year-old respiratory patient Alfie Boote has become the sixth best junior canoeist in the world. Alfie beat off stiff competition from fellow paddlers at the world championships in Krakow earlier this year and also gained a bronze medal in the world teams event. His achievement also makes him the number-one performing national and international male junior canoeist in the UK.

Alfie said: "This experience has given me confidence that I really can compete at the top level. I did feel the sense of occasion and the pressure of the race, but now I know I have the speed I need to get me through. I'm looking forward to going on holiday now for a couple of weeks – with no canoeing! – but then it'll be right back to training and hopefully the world championships again next year."

Since he was born, Alfie has been a patient of the children's respiratory department at Royal Stoke. He has suffered from severe respiratory complications from birth, including numerous bouts of pneumonia, a collapsed lung and severe asthma.

Mum Suzie Boote said: "For Alfie to be sixth in the world is absolutely amazing and we are all so proud of him. He just lives for the sport and if he's not training, he's watching videos of other people and picking up tips on how he can improve his performance. His achievements make all the hours spent in training worthwhile."

Canoe Slalom has been an Olympic event since 1972, debuting at the Munich games. Alfie has been training at Stafford and Stone Canoe Club from the age of 12 and is in good company, as the club has helped to produce recent Olympic champion Joe Clarke – winner of the K1M in Rio 2016.